"In the Azores, the activity of live animal exportation can never end. It can never end because we have a genetic improvement, we have to affirm ourselves as a region that exports genetic improvement," said Ventura.

The regional secretary of the PSD/CDS-PP/PPM coalition executive was speaking in Ponta Delgada after a meeting with the Azores Agricultural Federation, which was also attended by the Transportation Secretary, Mota Borges.

António Ventura stressed that the "export of genetic quality animals" will be one of the "aspects of the new livestock farming" of the Azores, whether it be animals for milk or meat production.

On 13 May, the leader and regional deputy of the PAN/Azores, Pedro Neves, said he wanted to end the transport of livestock animals out of the region due to the "evident disturbances" that a long-distance journey entails.

On 26 May, the regional secretary criticised the "fundamentalism" and "radicalism" of those who advocate an end to live animal exports.

"There is some fundamentalism there that lacks the knowledge and sensitivity to understand that live exports must continue. We are against this radicalism, against this fundamentalism, against this exploitation of the sensitivity of citizens", he said.

We cannot humanise animals. Animals for production have rules, and pets have other rules. In the Azores autonomous region, with this Regional Government, live exports are something to be continued in an affirmative manner".

António Ventura also said that it is "fundamental" for the agricultural sector that there is a "regular and accessible transport system".

The president of the Azores Agricultural Federation, Jorge Rita, considered it "fundamental" to increase the "situation of predictability" in maritime transport, warning that there are "difficulties" in the smaller islands for the export of livestock.

"For us, it is fundamental to improve the income of farmers via their exports. He also said that the European Commission had "no alternative" to the proposed directive, but said that it would "not be possible to implement the proposed directive in any way".

Jorge Rita also defended the application of compensatory indemnities in maritime transport, under the responsibility of the Government of the Republic, so that "all exported products" arrive with the "same price to all islands" in the Azores.

Transport Secretary, Mário Mota Borges, stressed that the new "maritime transport plan for goods in the Azores is following its course," noting that "within this year" the conclusions will be known.

Questioned by Lusa about the entry into force of the Azores Tariff, Mota Borges referred that "in due time" a press conference will be given on the subject, but did not want to advance if the conference will be held before or after 1 June.

At the end of March, the regional government announced that the Azores Fare would come into force on 1 June, allowing residents to travel by air between the islands for 60 Euros round trip, but, for now, prices have not yet been updated on SATA's online booking platform.

Photo:Sergey Ashmarin